Noumea Race Day 6: V5's skipper interviewed - Update @ 2230hrs

V5 after the start of the Evolution Sails Sail Noumea race.

1720hrs: The first monohull V5 (skippered by David Nathan) finished the Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012 race at approximately 1720hrs, taking approximately 5days 3hrs and 16mins for the race. She is the first monohull to finish the dramatic race.

On Tuesday evening the ORMA60 TeamVodafoneSailing (Simon Hull) finished to claim the multihull record.

Third placed yacht on the water is Akatea, who is 107nm behind V5 and is sailing towards the finish at 8.2kts, and should finish in about 12 hours time.

David Nathan helming V5 after the start of the Evolution Sails Sail Noumea race.
Sail-World spoke to V5 owner/skipper, David Nathan, soon after the canting keel TP52 finished the Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012 race.

The race will be notable for the extreme conditions faced by the 13 boat fleet, which started in light airs on Saturday.

A front passed through the fleet on Monday night, hitting some with winds in excess of 65kts, and resulting in the 80ft Farr design Beau Geste, suffering a severe hull fracture, which almost required her crew to take to the life rafts.

V5 sailed a steady race, right from the start in Auckland, establishing a small lead on the other 50fters as they sailed up the Northland coast, losing it for a time on Saturday night as Akatea and Kia Kaha found more breeze out to sea. She reclaimed the front running off Cape Brett, on Sunday morning and progressively worked out a lead of 100nm by the finish of the race on Thursday mid-afternoon, local time.

'It was quite a tough race in many respects, ' said Nathan. 'The first part of it was quite slow, and frustrating, then on Monday night it blew up when the front came through. We saw 42kts. From there on, it was on the nose all the way to Noumea and we saw 22-30kts.

'On a daily basis it was fluctuating in the 20’s and 30’s. We were either heading into it, or slightly eased. It was like living in a barrel really. It was very trying – nothing like the brochure.

V5 after the start of the Evolution Sails Sail Noumea race.
'We had our hands full. It hasn’t been a comfortable trip. It has been quite interesting tactically, to work out which course to take, and to position ourselves to make the end run smoother,' he added

When told that Akatea, a Cookson 50, and their nearest rival had reported winds of over 65kts, Nathan remarked 'we didn’t see 66kts thank goodness. What we had was quite enough.'

'The worst seas were 5-6 metres maximum. They weren’t horrific. But on Monday night they were very uncomfortable.

'Today was the first day when we have had some very nice sailing coming into the finish with eased sheets.

The galley area aboard V5 with the cooker, sans gas bottles on the right - Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012
The issues V5 had with their gas bottles are well known. They left Auckland with new gas canisters, but the connection fitting wasn’t quite right, and the crew were not able to lock them onto the gas cooker. They faced sailing the whole race, without being able to boil water to reconstitute their freeze dried food.

'The gas was quite a saga,' Nathan laughs. 'But luckily it was so rough that no-one wanted to eat. And we had more than enough chocolate bars – in fact enough for the fleet!

'We over-ate on chocolate and we had cold food, and two hot meals, but everyone stood up remarkably well. One of the guys did a MacGyver job with the gas bottles, which worked for a little while and gave us a hot meal.

'Today was the first day that anyone felt like eating, and after a good steak meal tonight I’m sure we’ll all be fine,' he added.

V5 after the start of the Evolution Sails Sail Noumea race.
Questioned further on V5’s performance, Nathan complimented his boat and crew.

'The boat performed remarkably well. We did a lot of preparation for this race, and it was certainly justified. I am very pleased we did, as the conditions weren’t friendly

'The crew struck together and battled on – endlessly it seemed, at times. Eventually we were lucky enough to prevail, which was rewarding, when so many boats had to retire.

'We had no damage. The boat stood up well and the crew also. It has been a great success.

'But now that we are here with some French wine, and brie from the yacht club as a welcoming present, it all seems much more palatable and it is amazing how short your memory can be.'


TeamVodafoneSailing - Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012

1400: The TP52, V5 (David Nathan) is approximately 40nm from the finish of the Evolution Sails Sail Noumea Race and will finish mid-afternoon today, to be the first monohull home.

She will be the second finisher after Simon Hull's ORMA60, TeamVodafoneSailing finished on Tuesday evening.

Behind her the fleet seems to be making reasonable progress, although the wind strength in the area is not known.

The Ker 40 Icebreaker has reached the safety of Norfolk Island and she has officially withdrawn from the race. Two of the nuts on her 12 keelbolts have moved from their marks, and it may be possible to re-tension these at Norfolk.

She joins the Farr80 Beau Geste who is also in Norfolk Island after almost breaking in half on Monday.

Earlier today Race Control reported: It's been a long 24 hours for the crew on the Ker40 Icebreaker and we can now confirm that they have officially retired from the race and are safely anchored at Norfolk Island.

Icebreaker originally suspended racing and made the decision to head to Norfolk Island to address the loose keel bolt issue. On their way there they suffered another blow resulting in damage to the forward bulk head. They are now unable to continue racing.

Royal Akarana Yacht Club Race Management team worked together with Martime New Zealand Rescue Coordination Center and were communicating regularily with the crew.

At 1200 hours Thursday 7 June, Paul Stubbs contacted RAYC and RCC via Sat Phone to give the final confirmation of their safe arrival and then advised to announce their retirement.

All the crew are safe and well and will assess the boats situation. RAYC will continue to provide updates.

The tracker from Beau Geste will be transfered to Icebreaker.

Starlight Express were instructed by RCC to follow Icebreaker and are also on their way to Norfolk Island. There the crew will rest overnight before continuing to Auckland, New Zealand on Friday 8 June.


Starlight Express, although withdrawn from the race, is heading to Norfolk to standby Icebreaker.

Stories are emerging of the horrendous conditions experienced by the competitors in the race.

Last night the Cookson 50 Akatea reported that they had experienced winds of 66kts over the deck with heavy seas, and that the wind never dropped below 38kts for a 24 hour period.

The boats were sailing to windward at the time, however yesterday evening conditions had moderated and they were sailing to Noumea in a 20kt breeze on a more favourable point of sailing.

The latest sked for the Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012 race can be read by http://www.sailnoumea.com/news/nz-update-0730hrs-sked-7612!clicking_here

Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012 – Positions at a Glance Time: 1200hrs June 7, 2012 
Line PositionBoatTypeSpeedDistance to Finish
1TeamVodafone SailingORMA 60Finished0
2V5TP5211.20kts59.3nm
3AkateaCookson 507.7kts155.6nm
4Kia KahaTP528.3kts187.7nm
5RikkiRP428.6kts252.9nm
6M1Ross8.6kts260.7nm
7Steinlager2Farr837.9kts264.40nm
8BullrushElliott 128.0kts294.6nm
9ElysiumElliott Tourer1.3kts366.6nm
10IcebreakerKer400.00kts411nm (Norfolk Is)
11IolantheFirst 514.3kts463.4nm
12BonaparteBeneteau 505.2kts466.1nm
13BlizzardFarr 444.5kts525nm
RetiredCotton Blossom 2FarrIn Opua 
RetiredCarerraMarten 49En route to Auckland 
RetiredStarlight ExpressDavidson 55Standing by Icebreaker 
RetiredBeau GesteFarr 80Retired – Norfolk Island